The Village of Burns Lake has its eye fixed on improvements to streets and water and sewer services as council laid out its five-year plan beginning this year and stretching out to 2022.
Required by provincial legislation, five-year plans are meant to outline specific initiatives as well as to forecast local government finances.
In specifics, council has identified the long-wanted 8th Ave./Centre St. rehabilitation project, the purchase of a new fire/rescue truck, completion of the 7th Ave. sewer lift station upgrade, the start of a water treatment plant and ongoing efforts at economic diversification and promoting the village as priorities.
One of those projects, the 8th Ave./Centre St. project, is a carry over from previous plans, which are renewed every year, and can only be carried out if the village is successful in receiving a senior government grant.
And that’s proving to be a challenge because the village has been turned down twice already, says Burns Lake mayor Chris Beach.
“The amount of the grant [request] was $3.2 million. When a project is time sensitive, grants can be problematic. By the time a grant application is made, it can take up to a year for a decision to be made,” Beach noted.
“If unsuccessful, as in the case with the 8th Ave. project, (two consecutive applications), it puts us three years behind on beginning a project and up to another year to complete and the project,” he said.
“Every year the costs of any project increases,” Beach said.
This planned project would result in a complete reconstruction of 8th Ave. from Hwy16 to Centre St. and Centre St. from 8th Ave. to 10th Ave.
Just over $2 million will go into street rebuilding with the remainder being to update water and sewer.
Another significant project wanted by the village, again contingent upon receive a grant from a senior government, is a treatment plant to deal with water discolouration caused by manganese.
Although not considered harmful to health, the discolouration has been the subject of complaints.
But the village has now taken the first steps leading to the planned construction of a treatment plant to filter manganese before it enters the village’s pipe distribution system.
Using a surplus from the construction of the village’s two new water towers, it’s been testing a pilot treatment plant, looking at where it obtains water from now and completing the engineering for the actual treatment plan it wishes to build.
“The federal and provincial governments authorized the Village of Burns Lake to begin work on the initial stages of a manganese treatment plant with the surplus [from the water tower project],” said Beach.
“The approximate funds spent to date on this project are over $400,000. The final stage will be the construction phase. The plant will cost approximately $3,000,000,” he added.
One item on the list that will take place is the purchase of a new fire/rescue vehicle for the village fire department.
First approved in the 2017-2022 five-year plan at a cost of $320,000, the amount was increased by $30,000 as a contingency for any fluctuation in the exchange rate between the Canadian and American dollar.
Most of the money, $195,000, comes from village reserves with the rest obtained from short term borrowing.
The new vehicle should be delivered by mid-fall.
Another public works project on the books is the 7th Ave. sewer lift station upgrade with the village in possession of a $9,300 engineering and feasibility study financed by a grant.
“This study has been completed and the Village of Burns Lake is moving forward with this project,” said Beach.
As far as regular pavement work goes, the village sets $160,000 annually with the money coming from the return of federal gas taxes.
Council sets its vision and priorities based on resident surveys gathered, for example, this past year at the farmer’s market, fall fair and Christmas craft fair.
The majority of respondents at 45 per cent chose infrastructure – water, sewer and street repair – as their number one priority while economic development came next at 40 per cent.
Protective services, recreation programming and sustainability initiatives were tied at five per cent.